August 2002 Archives

Blair says Iraq issue 'must be tackled'

Is he insane? I can't imagine why any British PM would tie his fortunes so closely to the most ignorant man ever to be President of the USA.

For him to argue this:

The world cannot stand by while Iraq is in "flagrant breach" of United Nations resolutions, the UK prime minister has said.

seems dangerous to me, given that one of the key "allies" of the US and UK in the Middle East is Israel, which is certainly in violation of a number of UN resolutions. It only makes the two countries look like hypocrites.

I'm not arguing that Iraq is country of peace and enlightenment, but I also don't see it as a country that threatens us enough to spend $50+ billion (more than the federal government's annual spending on primary and secondary education plus medical research) and risk thousands of American lives, to say nothing of de-stablizing much of the Middle East.

Fighting for our culture

Supposedly we're at war to "protect our culture". I'm fascinated by a country that gives us a Food and Beverage Category in the Staples catalog. When I worked at a dot-com, we knew things were headed downhill when the free food and drinks stopped. My favorite excuse from the evil CFO was that "people might just eat junk here rather than go out and buy lunch." The idea that people working 12-18 hour days might save time by eating bad junkfood inside seemed horrible to him. Maybe he just cared about my health.

I thought about posting the picture of Britney and Jacko at the MTV awards as another example of American culture, but that's too easy.

The glass really does make a difference

I know some people think it's pretentious to care about the shape of one's wine glass, but New Scientist has an article telling us that the shape of a glass really does affect a wine's chemistry.

I will have to find some way to go on

Flak Magazine has announced the end of the Why They Hate Us Blog.

Bushism of the Day

"There's no cave deep enough for America, or dark enough to hide." —Oklahoma City, Okla., Aug. 29, 2002

Courtesy of Slate.

OK, I don't even like sports...

The Times has a front page picture and inside article about one of the doubles teams at the U.S. Open: Amir Hadad of Israel and Aisam ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan -- yes, a Jewish/Muslim doubles team. There's a video on the CNN/SI site also -- they're adorable. A photo from the U.S. Open site of them is here.

This is terrorism too

When it's tank shells (or F-16s) rather than suicide bombs that kill civilians, Americans seem to think it's not terrorism. Israel shelled people in a bedouin encampment last night, killing a family of four, and wounding others, claiming there was movement in an area near a settlement where Palestinians were forbidden. When I heard about it on NPR this morning, they said it was within an olive grove. I know from my friends in JAtO that now is the time for harvesting olives for oil.
[ CNN - Photo - NY Times - Ha'aretz ]

It's one of the top stories on the newswires right now, but the NY Times chose to put it on page 9 with a standard-sized headline.

The settlements are being built in areas where these families have lived for generations. To kill them for being in the olive groves that they've tended for hundreds of years (or more) is terrorism.

Let's Make War

NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd announces, "I'm with Dick! Let's Make War." She admits she was dubious at first, but says that Cheney's vision -- as the vice-president put it, "a government that is democratic and pluralistic, a nation where the human rights of every ethnic and religious group are recognized" -- convinced her. "I'm on board," she says. "Let's declare war on Saudi Arabia!"

My favorite part:

The Saudis would probably use surrogates to fight anyway. They pay poor workers from other countries to do their menial labor. And they paid the Americans to fight the Iraqis in 1991. The joke among the American forces then was: "What's the Saudi national anthem? 'Onward, Christian Soldiers.' "

U.S. Constitution and the ICC

I'm a total amateur compared to Republicans when it comes to cognitive dissonance. How they are able to oppose the International Criminal Court -- using the constitutional protections given a U.S. citizen as an excuse -- while putting American citizens in jail and denying them their rights as "enemy combatants" is beyond my comprehension. Sometimes political cartoons say it better.

Italians do it with books

Sometimes it's a mess, and it's not the place to be when you have to get something done immediately, but I love Italy anyway. The latest reason -- found on zoomata:

Italian men on the beach trying to pick up women are relying on the heavyweights of literature instead of bodybuilding.

According to a magazine survey of over 1,000 Italian men, some 68% of those aged 18- 55 take a book to the beach in hopes of catching the eye of a bathing beauty.

Most have a very clear idea about what sort of literature seduces -- eighty percent of these tome-carrying Romeos rely on the Divine Comedy and the Bible.

Other pickup favorites were Giacomo Leopardi's poems and Alessandro Manzoni's epic love story "The Betrothed." Although some 27% admitted favoring books instead of the usual crossword puzzle or gossip magazine because it's important to appear 'cultured,' around 20% said the books were also a source of inspiration -- for pickup lines.

Those wacky christians: A followup

The Times has a followup article to the one I wrote about several weeks ago regarding monks fighting over territorial rights at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. I can't imagine trying to summarize this, so I'll just excerpt a bit of it. One of the things that interested me was how all of the other sects took over the "territory" of the Ethiopians after they were wiped out by plague in 1658. The article also mentions that 11 monks were hospitalized after the previously-mentioned melee.

At 11:40 a.m. on Saturday, a 72-year-old Egyptian priest walked out onto the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher carrying a wooden chair.

Limping heavily, the Rev. Abdel Mallek walked to a wall in the shade of a tree mysteriously rooted in the ancient stone and sat down near a cluster of Ethiopian monks, gazing at nothing in particular. Exactly 15 minutes later, he gathered his chair and walked back into the Coptic monastery.

It was the most prosaic of scenes, except that Father Mallek was closely guarded by an Israeli policeman, and three others stood guard. From the windows of the Egyptian monastery on one side, someone recorded the scene with a video camera, while several Ethiopian monks peered warily over the wall of their ancient compound on the other side.


The policemen saw nothing strange in the assignment. They are also from Jerusalem. "This is the center of the world," one explained. "This is how the world looks."


I'm never at a gas station, or I would buy some.


For my musically-inclined readers, I've been listening to Trent Reznor's favs on Live365 - from Bowie to Bloody Valentine to obscure Soft Cell tracks.

... some time later ...

OK. I got bored with that and switched to girl punk, courtesy of Church of Girl Radio -- from Portland, OR of course.

Barry does Williamsburg

I'm planning to head over to Bellwether Gallery's block party later today. Drop me an email or call my cell if you're going to be in the area!

More reports from Palestine

Just a reminder: James has more reports from our friend Steve in Palestine.

Last weekend

Now that I have the new blog working, I can talk about last weekend and put up a few pictures. You'll remember that it was 95 degrees and very humid -- a lovely NYC August weekend. If we hadn't had visitors, I would not have left my a/c-blessed apartment at all. I would have ordered in everything, including ice cream. But we did have visitors -- two sets!

The first set was my friend David from high school, visiting from Chicago -- a fellow "band fag" -- and his friend Stacy (a charming Atlanta girl). Here is a picture of David wilting in a subway station. That orange blur on the left is James jumping out of the way to prevent having his picture taken.

Let's just say David has grown up a bit since I knew him in high school, and I mean that in the best possible way. He was two classes behind me, and I think I was probably about 5'7" or 5'8" during my senior year. David was smaller. Now we're about the same height, but he works out more than I and is "hunkier".

He looked me up via Google using my real name about six months ago, and sent me an email. He was thrilled to find out that the moniker of "band fag" was truer for both of us than it was for many of the other nerdy band people. It was somewhat strange to be two homos in NYC, chatting about the world, 18 years after we last saw each other in a backward little town in Arkansas.

We went to Big Cup to eat lunch before heading uptown to the Eakins show at the Met -- which I highly recommend. Big Cup managed to surprise me, as if often does. I didn't see Edmund White there this time, but there were two men at the next table discussing the recent news that the U.S. won't be increasing Egypt's foreign aid because of their persecution of a democracy activist. One of them mentioned (I didn't put this in my post), that Bush couldn't be bothered to say anything when Egypt tried and jailed a large number of men for homosexuality. Foreign aid discussions at Big Cup!

Our other visitors for the weekend were James's nephew Paul and his girlfriend Elizabeth, visiting from DC. She was fabulous. Imagine a family member dating someone who can chat about Donald Judd, British explorers in Antarctica, and is incredibly beautiful as well! I was ready for her to move in with us. We spent some time walking around downtown near Ground Zero, had lunch along the water at Southwest, and visited the Irish Hunger Memorial. I hadn't realized that it talked about hunger on a more global level, and doesn't just concentrate on the Irish Potato Famine alone. There are even quotes from reports on starvation in Afghanistan in 2001 (before 9/11). It's an interesting piece of architecture, including the ruins of a stone cottage brought over from Ireland. I love the provenance of the cottage: it belonged to the family of the memorial designer's (gay) partner. Elizabeth took a couple of pictures of us with Paul, so unfortunately she's not in these:

I'll add a vacation photo of her and Paul for the curious:

Yes, he dresses like an engineer. But he's brilliant and speaks more languages than you do.

This one's for Philo and Chris

In honor of Philo, Chris, and the Summer of Rock, I present:

The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida:

Why cities without gays and rock bands are losing the economic development race.


I didn't know he had a web site! He is one of the only playwrights, along with Stoppard and Albee, that can get me to actually pay Broadway prices for a ticket.

Bloggy: The next generation

OK. I'm done for now with the new and improved version. The more artistically-minded of you will notice the color scheme -- it's based on Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue (1921). I examined the RGB values from the image.

The blogrolling thing on the right isn't always accurate about whether a blog has been updated recently. It's because some programs (including the one that james is using) fail to send a "Last-Modified" header. So don't yell at me if your entry is wrong.

New blog

Not really new, but it's new to me. I love it!

Petition against the War on Iraq

As someone who thinks a pre-emptive strike on a country that few people other than Bush believe is a significant threat to us, I just signed Move On's petition. This group got started during the horrors of the Clinton impeachment/Republican coup.

I will not feel safe in a world, as an American and a New Yorker, that justifiably believes that force is the only way to convince the USA of anything.

A Republican administration that has Kissinger telling it this is a bad idea is a danger to us all.

P.S. Are we really going to be safer if every country with weapons of mass destruction thinks we might attack them? It brings new meaning to the phrase "use 'em or lose 'em".

James has posted reports from friends with Jews Against the Occupation currently staying in the Occupied Territories.

I'm surprised

To be fair (because I'm morally superior to Republicans1), I need to mention it when the Bush administration does something even remotely positive. Unfortunately, it only applies to new aid, not the $2 billion we currently give annually.

Bush, in Shift on Egypt, Links New Aid to Rights

The Bush administration will oppose any additional foreign aid for Egypt to protest the Egyptian government's prosecution of human rights campaigner Saad Eddin Ibrahim and its poor treatment of pro-democracy organizations, administration sources said yesterday.

The Ibrahim case makes it "impossible" for the administration to contemplate extra money for Egypt, according to a White House official who said President Bush will soon advise Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in writing of his decision. Existing aid programs will not be affected.

1 Just a single example: The horrible Ann Coulter, she of let's have a crusade and convert the Arab world to Christianity by force fame (does she think we should try that with Jews again too?), says Manhattan doesn't count as part of America. I recommend she visit NYC around the anniversary of 9/11 and say that.

Aschcroft's camps

Why would we fingerprint them?

Today's quiz: The U.S. is about to begin fingerprinting visitors from a list of Arab/Muslim countries. Which country won't be included in the list? Hint: 15 of the 19 hijackers came from there.

We already have one of those

Apparently the people around him can't spell his name correctly. I'll quote it in case it gets fixed:

What is Trade Promotion Authority?

"It is important for America to understand that we’re good at what we do. We can compete with anybody in the world. We'’ve got the most productiv workforce on the face of the Earth; therefore, let’s open up markets to sell our products. The Senate has got to give me the ability to do that."

—President George W. Buh
Charleston, West Virginia
January 24, 2002

"Good jobs depend on expanded trade. Selling into new markets creates new jobs, so I ask Congress to finally approve trade promotion authority."

--President George W. Buh
State of the Union Address
January 29, 2002

Remember the Dirty Bomber?

Remember the guy held for months until Ashcroft suddenly announced his "capture" as the corporate scandals erupted? He's been held without a lawyer and without being charged with anything, and the government doesn't seem to have a case.

I would have done the same

I know -- I'm getting a bit obsessed with the Middle East lately, but it makes me so crazy that we're spending billions to help various people kill each other. I don't support the killing of innocent civilians, but that's what both the Israelis and the Palestinians are doing. It's somehow considered less immoral when it's done with American-made F-16s, tanks, and laser-guided bombs. Israel basically has the entire West Bank and Gaza Strip under 24-hour curfew. Even in the worst days of Northen Ireland, or the depths of the Apartheid regime in South Africa, the oppressor didn't go that far. And it's still not making Israel safer.

Here is a column by Yitzhak Frankenthal about the death of his son, a soldier killed by a Palestinian in the Occupied Territories.

My beloved son Arik, my own flesh and blood, was murdered by Palestinians. My tall, blue-eyed, golden-haired son who was always smiling with the innocence of a child and the understanding of an adult. My son. If to hit his killers, innocent Palestinian children and other civilians would have to be killed, I would ask the security forces to wait for another opportunity.


I would say to the security forces: do not kill the killer. Rather, bring him before an Israeli court. You are not the judiciary. Your only motivation should not be vengeance, but the prevention of any injury to innocent civilians.


My son Arik was murdered when he was a soldier by Palestinian fighters who believed in the ethical basis of their struggle against the occupation. My son Arik was not murdered because he was Jewish but because he is part of the nation that occupies the territory of another. I know these are concepts that are unpalatable, but I must voice them loud and clear, because they come from my heart - the heart of a father whose son did not get to live because his people were blinded with power.

As much as I would like to do so, I cannot say that the Palestinians are to blame for my son's death. That would be the easy way out, but it is we, Israelis, who are to blame because of the occupation. Anyone who refuses to heed this awful truth will eventually lead to our destruction.

Forbes: Richest Dead Celebrities

Forbes has released its second annual survey of Richest Deceased Celebrities.

Lefthanders' Day

Send me presents! It's Lefthanders' Day!

A story for the smokers

Passive Smoke Could Kill Kitty

Scientists have come up with yet another possible reason that smokers -- at least cat-loving smokers -- should kick the habit: Secondhand smoke may give cats a form of feline lymphoma.

Elizabeth Bertone of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and colleagues studied 184 cats that were treated for lymphoma or liver failure. Those exposed to any kind of tobacco smoke had more than double the risk of developing lymphoma, the most common cancer in cats. The longer they were exposed, the greater the risk, the researchers found.

Several recent studies have suggested that people who smoke cigarettes may face an increased risk of developing non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and that children of smokers may face an increased risk.

"These findings suggest that passive smoking may increase the risk of lymphoma in cats and suggests that further study of this relationship in humans is warranted," the researchers wrote in the Aug. 1 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Selective Memri


I have heard mention of Memri lately, a group whose purpose, according to its website, is to bridge the language gap between the west - where few speak Arabic - and the Middle East, by "providing timely translations of Arabic, Farsi, and Hebrew media".

I suspect it's too good to be true. Their choices of articles are highly selective, and almost always chosen to make Arabs and Muslims look as bad as possible. They have almost no information on their web site about who they are, but Brian Whitaker, a Guardian columnist, used search engine archives to view old pages.

Its work is subsidised by US taxpayers because as an "independent, non-partisan, non-profit" organisation, it has tax-deductible status under American law.

Evidence from Memri's website also casts doubt on its non-partisan status. Besides supporting liberal democracy, civil society, and the free market, the institute also emphasises "the continuing relevance of Zionism to the Jewish people and to the state of Israel".

That is what its website used to say, but the words about Zionism have now been deleted. The original page, however, can still be found in internet archives.

The reason for Memri's air of secrecy becomes clearer when we look at the people behind it. The co-founder and president of Memri, and the registered owner of its website, is an Israeli called Yigal Carmon.

Mr - or rather, Colonel - Carmon spent 22 years in Israeli military intelligence and later served as counter-terrorism adviser to two Israeli prime ministers, Yitzhak Shamir and Yitzhak Rabin.

Retrieving another now-deleted page from the archives of Memri's website also throws up a list of its staff. Of the six people named, three - including Col Carmon - are described as having worked for Israeli intelligence.

Col Carmon's co-founder at Memri is Meyrav Wurmser, who is also director of the centre for Middle East policy at the Indianapolis-based Hudson Institute, which bills itself as "America's premier source of applied research on enduring policy challenges".

The ubiquitous Richard Perle, chairman of the Pentagon's defence policy board, recently joined Hudson's board of trustees.

Ms Wurmser is the author of an academic paper entitled Can Israel Survive Post-Zionism? in which she argues that leftwing Israeli intellectuals pose "more than a passing threat" to the state of Israel, undermining its soul and reducing its will for self-defence.

James has more information including a quote from our friend Steve, who is headed there as a peace activist.

Doug Henwood on the economy

This is a brilliant summary of his comments on a WBAI show.

Response to leftyblog

I received a response from leftyblog regarding my little rant about the wimpiness and conservatism of the Democratic Party and its supporters, but I just now had enough time to write my response. The beginning shows up on the main page of the site, but I don't think I can link directly to it.

Read my entire rebuttal here.

Todd Gitlin on spineless Democrats

Bush falters but who dare oppose him?

Here wobbles America, then, plutocracy rampant, 11 months into shadowy war, economically troubled, suspicious of allies, suspected by allies, hated - and American politics remains becalmed and unready. A lot of weak wills wait for events to take the initiative they're not taking.

Priorities -- a followup

I'm reaching the limits of the comment system so I'm posting my response to swerdloff's comments on this here.

How can you say we have enough troups in Afghanistan? I'll quote the Washington Post on April 17:

The Bush administration has concluded that Osama bin Laden was present during the battle for Tora Bora late last year and that failure to commit U.S. ground troops to hunt him was its gravest error in the war against al Qaeda, according to civilian and military officials with first-hand knowledge.

Intelligence officials have assembled what they believe to be decisive evidence, from contemporary and subsequent interrogations and intercepted communications, that bin Laden began the battle of Tora Bora inside the cave complex along Afghanistan's mountainous eastern border. Though there remains a remote chance that he died there, the intelligence community is persuaded that bin Laden slipped away in the first 10 days of December.

Of course, this really begs the question of whether we've done anything about 9/11 at all. No one has ever presented evidence to the public that anyone involved in the plot is still alive -- that we know who was involved other than the 19 hijackers. Even the "20th" hijacker prosecution lacks evidence that would stand up in a normal court of law. Merely telling us that there is evidence and even the courts can't see it is not acceptable. How do we know the funders weren't members of the Saudi royal family rather than Bin Laden and Al Quaeda?

It's not surprising to read articles that ask whether this was as much about controlling Central Asian oil as it was about "revenge". Who employed Karzai and many members of his government before 9/11? Unocal.

We also have not provided enought troops to actually regain civilian control of areas of Afghanistan outside of Kabul. They are once again controlled by the warlords of the pre-Taliban era. Remember Laura Bush, et al, talking about how this was a war about liberating women? When Karzai announced his cabinet 2 weeks ago, the minister for women's affairs was not filled. It may not ever be, either because it's too dangerous, or because of the opposition of religious conservatives. Remember a member of the government has already been assassinated.

Regarding Yugoslavia, I'll quote the Tony Judt article I talked about in another post:

Earlier this year the US ambassador for human rights called for the early dismissal of the ad hoc tribunals for Rwanda and former Yugoslavia -- even though these are integral to any serious war on international terror and the US itself spent millions of dollars to bribe Belgrade into handing Slobodan Milosevic over to the Hague tribunal.

Of 45,000 peace-keeping troops in the world, 700 are American, although we have troops stationed in approximately 150 countries. I refuse to count military advisers in places like Indonesia and the Philippines as peace-keepers. We have also announced that any country receiving aid from the U.S. will have to certify that it considers U.S. troops immune from prosecution of the International Criminal Court. It's rather difficult to argue that we are a force for justice and peace in the world at this point. Why anyone should believe that our military might exist except to provide us with cheap oil and an inordinate proportion of the world's resources is beyond me.

Regarding the NY Times: I read a lot of news sources, ranging from The Economist (not very liberal), to the Guardian, Ha'aretz, the BBC, etc. because I don't trust one source for news. The Times is a pretty good paper, but it's a centrist establishment paper, and I wouldn't confuse it with a "liberal" news source any day.

In the end, I think the thing that frustrates me the most is that what we're doing isn't even particularly effective. Even if I were a Kissinger-style "realpolitik" thinker, I wouldn't think the Bush Administration policies make sense. They really only make sense in the context of enriching defense companies and oil companies. We are spending a fortune, even before Iraq, and it's not making it any safer for Americans overseas or in their own country. We are devoting more and more resources to military spending while the rest of the world is realizing that it's not economically effective to do so. We are risking our own economic well-being, whether we care about anyone else in the world or not.

Mexico on 14th Street

I just added a gallery of photos I took on July 21 on 14th Street. I think it was a festival for the Virgin of Guadalupe, but I'm not sure. I was there to watch the dancing!

When I went to college in Texas, I always felt that the presence of Mexicans was one of the only things that made it bearable. Otherwise, it would have been some weird mix of Jersey, Long Island, and guns.


I meant to post this weeks ago, after seeing it at Schroeder Romero:

glass cephalopods

Cephalopods of cast glass by Julia Kunin. She buys frozen octopi in Chinatown and casts them in glass. If you're really into cephalopods, check out my friend Tony's web site.

Israel is a disaster

It's not making itself any safer, or us, and it has almost completely lost any moral authority it once had. Two stories from today's Ha'aretz:

Police use water cannons to disperse Israeli peace protest

Municipal worker killed by Israeli troops for working during curfew

Ahmed al Kouraini, 54, worked for Nablus' electric department and was on his way to work at the emergency fire services building during a curfew when he was stopped by an IDF tank, the witnesses said.

"There was nothing happening there. They told him to stop, he stopped, they shot in the air and then a soldier shot him in the head, one bullet," said Yousef al Jadi, head of the Nablus Fire Department.

Al Kouraini died before reaching Itihad hospital, medical officials said.

Military officials said soldiers asked Kouraini to stop his vehicle. The soldiers then carried out "the proper steps for detaining a suspect," including shooting in the air, the officials added.

"The soldiers opened fire and as a result of the gunfire the truck driver was killed. The army has opened an investigation into the incident and if it is discovered that the force did not act properly, disciplinary action will be taken against the soldiers. The army expresses sorrow over the incident," the officials said.

Nablus, along with several Palestinian cities, is under a round-the-clock curfew imposed by Israel to try to end Palestinian terror attacks. Since IDF troops moved into Nablus more than six weeks ago, municipality workers have been allowed to move around despite the curfew.

Why the U.S. can't go it alone

The always brilliant Tony Judt (don't miss the Road to Nowhere links) uses a review of
The Paradox of American Power: Why The World's Only Superpower Can't Go It Alone to discuss how this country's focus on unilaterism and military power over all other forms of persuasion are making us less able to influence world affairs.

I will summarize his points (all emphasis is mine, not his):

  • The US is often a delinquent international citizen. It is reluctant to join international initiatives or agreements, whether on climate warming, biological warfare, criminal justice, or women's rights; the US is one of only two states (the other being Somalia) that have failed to ratify the 1989 Convention on Children's Rights. The present US administration has "unsigned" the Rome Treaty establishing an International Criminal Court and has declared itself no longer bound by the Vienna Convention on Law of Treaties, which sets out the obligations of states to abide by treaties they have yet to ratify.

  • Focusing on the ICC treaty: There are only 700 Americans currently serving overseas in UN peacekeeping missions (out of a total of 45,000 personnel), and the ICC already contained clauses, inserted explicitly to mollify Washington, that virtually exempted UN missions from prosecution. Washington's stance is particularly embarrassing because it makes a mockery of American insistence upon the international pursuit and prosecution of terrorists and other political criminals; and because it provides American cover for countries and politicians who have real cause to fear the new Court. All of our allies on the UN Security Council voted against the US on this matter; meanwhile Washington's opposition to the International Criminal Court is shared by Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Indonesia, Israel, and Egypt.

  • In Nye's view, international relations today resemble a particularly intricate game of three-dimensional chess. On one level there is hard military power, a terrain where the US reigns uncontested. On the second level there is economic power and influence: in this field the European Union already challenges the US in trade, the regulation of monopolies, and the setting of industrial standards, and outdistances America in telecommunications, environmental policy, and much else. At the third level Nye places the multifarious and proliferating nongovernmental activities shaping our world: currency flows, migration, transnational corporations, NGOs, international agencies, cultural exchanges, the electronic media, the Internet, and terrorism. Non-state actors communicate and operate across this terrain virtually unconstrained by government interference; and the power of any one state, the US included, is readily frustrated and neutralized.

    The trouble with the people in charge of shaping and describing US policy today, according to Nye, is that they are only playing at the first level, their vision restricted to American military firepower. In his words, "Those who recommend a hegemonic American foreign policy based on such traditional descriptions of American power are relying on woefully inadequate analysis."

  • The European Union (including its candidate members) currently contributes ten times more peacekeeping troops worldwide than the US, and in Kosovo, Bosnia, Albania, Sierra Leone, and elsewhere the Europeans have taken more military casualties than the US. Fifty-five percent of the world's development aid and two thirds of all grants-in-aid to the poor and vulnerable nations of the globe come from the European Union. As a share of GNP, US foreign aid is barely one third the European average. If you combine European spending on defense, foreign aid, intelligence gathering, and policing—all of them vital to any sustained war against international crime—it easily matches the current American defense budget. Notwithstanding the macho preening that sometimes passes for foreign policy analysis in contemporary Washington, the United States is utterly dependent on friends and allies in order to achieve its goals.

Why does it list Christianity before Judaism?

Get your Exx on

Oh my goodness, it's too good to even quote. Just go and read it.

A celebration of Dirk Bogarde

Salon has an essay on Dirk Bogarde that should not be missed. What passes for acting these days in the movie industry is appalling.



Can someone please explain to me how we can afford to have a larger defense budget than the next 25 countries combined, but we're not going to make the deadline for screening all airline baggage for explosives?

Does this make me a bad person?

I find great satisfaction in this: Charlton Heston has Alzheimer's.

Pictures at an exhibition

| 1 Comment

From tonight's West meets East gathering:


jhames and webdaddy

brian and dan'l

I didn't get a picture of him, but I did meet the lovely and talented mr. swill.

The United States in decline?

Foreign Policy has a very interesting article whose thesis is that America is now in decline because of a number of factors, including:

  • Public and private spending that is too heavily focused on military technology

  • The damage to our economic interests from an attack on Iraq

  • The likely failure of an attack on Iraq to "win" given the high risk of casualties and the lack of public support for combat leading to significant losses

  • The collapse in our world stature and leadership when we, as the foremost military power in history, fail to create a sustainable regime to follow Saddam Hussein

Those wacky christians

Monks Trade Blows in Unholy Row at Jerusalem Shrine

The rooftop compound of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre bore scars of conflict on Monday after Egyptian Coptic and Ethiopian monks traded blows over a chair at the traditional site of the crucifixion of Jesus.

About 11 monks were taken to hospital after clerics from the rival sects that jealously share the courtyard on the roof of the Jerusalem shrine threw rocks, metal rods and chairs at each other in the latest chapter of a centuries-old dispute.

For the six Christian sects that jealously guard their rights at the church, enshrined in a 1757 Ottoman "status quo" law, the movement several weeks ago by one denomination of a chair into a spot claimed by another was a declaration of war.

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